Dream Mock: The best-case scenario for every Round 1 pick
Pro Football Focus’ inaugural “Mock Week” continues with Mike Renner’s best-case-scenario look at every first-round pick. From April 10–14, look for a new mock each day for a unique perspective on the 2017 NFL Draft from our analysis team.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re borderline sick of mock drafts at this point. There’s only so many plausible scenarios that can get floated out before they lose meaning entirely. Because of that, and the fact that I have no insider information to speak of whatsoever, I decided to take a different twist on the traditional mock.
In this “dream” mock, I’m projecting the best possible scenario for every team. I’m not an idiot, and I’m not about to give Myles Garrett to the Panthers at No. 8 overall, even though he’s probably No. 1 on their board and fills a need. With a reasonable handle on where players are currently valued in the eyes of the NFL, here are the best possible picks for each team in the first round if things were to play out perfectly for them (meaning you may see some names appear more than once).
1. Cleveland Browns
Don’t overthink it, Cleveland.
2. San Francisco 49ers
Cleveland overthought it. Or someone else got quarterback-needy. Nobody likes neediness.
3. Chicago Bears
Lattimore is the best cornerback in this class, and CB is quickly evolving into arguably the second-most-valuable position in football. Adding a defensive lineman like Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas would also make sense here, but I don’t see it as drastic of a need as secondary help for Chicago.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
This may have been the most difficult decision for me out of all 32 picks, and it’s also why you see people mocking RB Leonard Fournette or TE O.J. Howard here, which would be suspect selections. A question for you, though: Has there been a defense in the last 10 years with three stellar corners that has been bad? (Answer: No.)
5. Tennessee Titans
This fit is much more palatable. The Titans would be ecstatic if Lattimore were to fall No. 5. Even with the signing of former Patriots CB Logan Ryan, the Titans can’t bank on Jason McCourty bouncing back to the form from early in his career.
6. New York Jets
At No. 6, the supposed “can’t miss” prospects will have been picked over. By that point, if the top quarterback is still on the board, the Jets have to admit failure to some degree with Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty and step up to the plate once again.
7. Los Angeles Chargers
There is a reason nearly every single mock draft puts this pair together. Gus Bradley’s defense commands a talented single-high safety, and Hooker is precisely that.
8. Carolina Panthers
This is a pairing I truthfully haven’t seen much of, but I honestly can’t see how Carolina would pass on Adams if he’s still on the board. The former LSU Tiger is the absolute perfect quarters safety — which the Panthers play a ton of — in his ability to effectively both run and pass from the split-field look.
9. Cincinnati Bengals
While tackle is arguably Cincinnati’s biggest need, no current OT prospect at No. 9 makes sense. Reuben Foster, Mike Williams, and Derek Barnett would also make sense here, but I want a playmaker across from WR A.J. Green. The Bengals’ quick-passing offense demands wide receivers to create separation quickly and run after the catch, which Davis can do supremely well.
10. Buffalo Bills
The freelance pass is a staple of any offense led by Tyrod Taylor. With Ross’ explosiveness in space, he’d be one of the most difficult receivers in the NFL to stick with on such plays.
11. New Orleans Saints
Foster is, in my mind, the second-best defensive player in this draft. There’s nothing he cannot do at the linebacker position. Instead of the revolving door of castoff linebackers the Saints have had in recent years, they would be wise to address the problem head on.
12. Cleveland Browns
I still have no handle on where the quarterbacks eventually fall in this draft, but I’m pretty sure Trubisky will be the first one off the board. Realistically, the Jets and 49ers are the only two teams in the top 10 liable to take a quarterback, so if both pass, it would make a lot of sense for the Browns to start the run on quarterbacks here.
13. Arizona Cardinals
Linebackers in the Cardinals scheme are asked to wear many different hats. Whether it’s blitzing, playing man coverage, or playing in a light box, it’s not an easy task by any means. Foster can do all those things as well as any linebacker in this class as he finished with the highest overall grade that we’ve given to an FBS linebacker in our three years of data.
14. Philadelphia Eagles
Cornerback is so far and away the Eagles biggest need after they addressed wide receiver this offseason that I cannot imagine them going anywhere else in the first round. Lucky for them, it’s a strong class and they should have their pick of a few immediate starters at 14. White is currently the second-highest corner on PFF’s big board.
15. Indianapolis Colts
Last stop for Foster if off-field concerns or positional value drops him this low. The Colts need anyone that knows how to play defense and Foster is clearly wise in its ways.
16. Baltimore Ravens
Even though the Ravens would be classified as a 3-4, they really don’t give a damn about their outside linebackers dropping into coverage. Terrell Suggs did so 13 times all last season. Suggs will also be 35 in the middle of next season and with Elvis Dumervil getting the ax, it’s a glaring need.
17. Washington Redskins
The 2016 Redskins desperately missed a dynamic presence at the running back position behind one of the best offensive lines in football. McCaffrey would translate immediately to their scheme and his versatility – combined with Jordan Reed’s – would be a nightmare for opposing linebackers.
18. Tennessee Titans
This is the absolute latest I can see Ross lasting, barring his hamstrings actually disintegrating from how quickly they fire. The Titans already got their cornerback. Addressing their other biggest need would earn them high post-draft marks.
19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
How Barnett ends up falling this far, I have no idea, but the NFL doesn’t seem to be nearly as high on the Tennessee defensive end as PFF is. Defensive end isn’t necessarily high on the Titans’ needs list, but William Gholston isn’t stopping me from taking a talent like Barnett. DaVonte Lambert rushed the passer 175 times a season ago and collected only one QB pressure. They can’t get themselves into a situation where he has to see the field again.
20. Denver Broncos
Point blank, the Broncos can’t start Donald Stephenson at left tackle next season if they ever want one of their young quarterbacks to develop. Ramczyk was our highest-graded tackle in his only year of FBS competition, and is the No. 1 tackle on our big board. Schematically he’s a perfect fit in Denver.
21. Detroit Lions
The absence of DeAndre Levy has been felt like a crater in the middle of the Lions’ defense the past couple of seasons. Reddick would finally fill that chasm. Levy was an all-purpose weapon back in 2014, blitzing 79 times that season. A blitz-heavy role would be ideal for the Temple linebacker.
22. Miami Dolphins
More linebacker needs means more of the Swiss Army knife. Reddick could finally give the Dolphins what everyone thought Dion Jordan would; a versatile linebacker whom offenses have to account for on every snap.
23. New York Giants
Is he a tackle? Is he a guard? I don’t care, put him on my football team. That positional versatility could ultimately come in handy if Ereck Flowers somehow learns to get out of his stance this offseason. Then you could plug Lamp anywhere along the right side of the Giants’ line.
24. Oakland Raiders
I’ve seen mocks with White falling out of the first round entirely. If he gets this far, though, I’d have a hard time seeing the Raiders pass on him. The D.J. Hayden experiment is no more in Oakland, and they could use a far more reliable corner on the back end.
25. Houston Texans
Unless they sign a quarterback before the draft, I can’t see how Houston could pass on a QB here. They’ve already mortgaged the future for immediate cap space with the Brock Osweiler trade. The roster is good enough to win a Super Bowl, but Tom Savage is not.
26. Seattle Seahawks
Bolles was legitimately born to play under Seahawks offensive line coach Tom Cable. I’m not going to get in the way of fate.
27. Kansas City Chiefs
While I’d love to give the Chiefs a quarterback, this is a Super Bowl-level roster right now, and none of the quarterbacks available at No. 27 will be able to contribute for awhile. Cook, on the other hand, is the biggest home-run threat in this class and could seamlessly replace Jamaal Charles.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Randy Gregory’s career is effectively finished in Dallas. Even if he does come back at this point, he can’t be relied upon. Lawson is one of the most underrated pass-rushers in this class with a pass-rushing grade higher than Myles Garrett’s this past season.
29. Green Bay Packers
*Flips on NFC Championship Game*
Best corner available, please.
30. Pittsburgh Steelers
I say forget defense, make this into the utterly unstoppable offense it was at times in 2015. Even if TE Ladarius Green comes back healthy, that just makes a lineup of Green, Njoku, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Le’Veon Bell all the more terrifying.
31. Atlanta Falcons
This fit makes too much sense to me (which means it will probably never happen). Character concerns will push the 20-year-old McDowell down boards, but the talent gap as a base end between him and Jonathan Allen/Solomon Thomas is negligible.
32. New Orleans Saints
*Flips on any Saints game the past three years*
Best corner available, please.